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How solar eclipses bring surprising changes in animal behavior – Times of India


Solar eclipses, a celestial phenomenon where the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, temporarily cloaking the latter, have fascinated humans for millennia. But how do animals react to this sudden plunge into darkness?
During a solar eclipse, the environment undergoes rapid changes: the temperature drops, the wind may still, and daylight fades to twilight.These environmental cues can trigger interesting behaviors in animals, often resembling their natural responses to dusk.
Birds are particularly affected. Many species are known to return to their nests, and nocturnal birds may become active, mistaking the eclipse for nightfall. Diurnal birds, on the other hand, may cease their daytime activities and prepare for “night.” After the eclipse, they often appear confused or startled by the rapid return of daylight.
Insects also respond. Bees, for instance, may return to their hives as light levels drop, and nocturnal insects like crickets and mosquitoes may begin their evening choruses, only to fall silent again once the sun re-emerges.
Marine life isn’t immune to the eclipse’s effects either. There have been reports of whales breaching more frequently during an eclipse, possibly due to changes in the water temperature or light levels affecting their behavior.
Domestic animals show varied reactions. Dogs and cats may display signs of confusion or restlessness as the sky darkens. Farm animals like cows and horses might return to their barns or display behaviors typical of their normal evening routines.
Zoos offer a unique vantage point to observe a variety of animals during an eclipse. For example, during the 2017 total solar eclipse across the US, observations at the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina revealed three main types of animal responses: those that displayed nighttime behaviors, those that showed signs of anxiety, and those that seemed unaffected.
Some animals, like certain species of lorikeets, followed their entire evening routine during the brief period of totality. Others, such as giraffes, exhibited anxious behaviors, like galloping around their enclosures. Meanwhile, animals like grizzly bears showed no apparent response, continuing their activities as if nothing had changed.
The reaction of animals to solar eclipses is not just a curiosity but also a field of scientific inquiry. Researchers use these events to study animal behavior and sensory perception. However, because total solar eclipses are relatively rare and unpredictable, gathering substantial data is challenging. The advent of crowdsourced science has helped, allowing for the collection of observations from a large number of people across different locations.



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MYSELF AMIT GOSH. I AM A PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER AND RESEARCHER.
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